Environmentalists who say Hong Kong is under siege from plastic waste have petitioned Hong Kong’s government to ban the use and sale of plastic tableware before 2025 rather than bringing in phased restrictions more slowly.

Representatives from 10 environmental groups including Greenpeace, WWF Hong Kong and the Conservancy Association filed a petition to the Environmental Protection Department on Monday, ahead of a meeting of the Legislative Council’s Panel on Environmental Affairs.

plastic utensils green piece central government offices
Representatives from 10 environmental groups file a petition to the government on August 23, 2021 to call on a ban on plastic tableware in 2025. Photo: Greenpeace.

Three environmentalists held a banner that read “Ban disposable plastic tableware in 2025” and brought a three-metre tall “plastic tableware monster” to government headquarters. The prop represents the 14.6 billion pieces of plastic tableware which according to Greenpeace are discarded in the city of 7.5 million every year.

The groups urged the authorities to fully regulate the use of disposable plastic tableware in dine-in and takeaway services by 2025, and draw up a timetable to promote the use of reusable tableware.

They said Hong Kong faces being “besieged by plastic” and the government proposal for phased regulations “lacked a clear implementation timetable.”

plastic utensils green piece central government offices
Representatives from 10 environmental groups brought a prop named “plastic utensils monster” to the Central Government Offices on August 23, 2021. Photo: Greenpeace.

“The government’s proposal, from consultation to the first phase, takes four years. And there is no end in sight to the implementation of the second phase. [The government’s] pace is very slow, it cannot effectively solve the critical problem of plastic pollution,” a joint statement read.

Under the government proposals, the local sale of disposable expanded polystyrene tableware will be banned in the first phase. Controls on the use of plastic cutlery for takeaway services, on the other hand, will be introduced in two stages – first, a ban on plastic straws, stirrers, forks, knives, spoons and plates by 2025, and then a complete ban on all disposable products in the latter phase. But no start date for the second phase has so far been announced.

Photo: Freepik.

“Subject to the outcome of the first phase after implementation for about 12 to 18 months as well as the maturity of the market for alternatives in future, we will review and determine the launch date of the second phase,” the government has said.

A two-month public consultation period on the proposals launched in early July is set to end on September 8.

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Kelly Ho has an interest in local politics, education and sports. She formerly worked at South China Morning Post Young Post, where she specialised in reporting on issues related to Hong Kong youth. She has a bachelor's degree in Journalism from the University of Hong Kong, with a second major in Politics and Public Administration.